PHOENIX – A musical based on the life of an Arizona “Dreamer” is heading to New York for an off-Broadway production.
“Americans !” will be presented at New World Stages and will run from April 21 to June 19. Tickets went on sale Thursday.
The musical tells the true story of Tony Valdovinos. He grew up in Phoenix and tried to enlist in the US Marines.
“I didn’t know that I was undocumented and didn’t have any kind of legal status in the country,” said Valdovinos, now a DACA recipient. KTAR News 92.3 FM.
Valdovinos was 2 years old when he and his family came to Arizona from Mexico.
He grew up thinking he had legal status. He found out otherwise during the recruiting process and was unable to enlist. But he found another way to serve.
He began working on election campaigns, including serving as a field manager for Ruben Gallego’s candidacy for Congress in 2014. Gallego, a Marine, won the election, prompting Valdovinos to create a political organization called The Machine for help elect politicians who support “Dreamers” like him.
The Phoenix Theater Company premiered “¡Americano!” in February 2020 and set box office records.
“It was very well received here, which I was really happy to see,” said Michael Barnard, who directed and co-wrote the musical. KTAR News 92.3 FM. “We worked very hard to make it a human story rather than a political story.”
Barnard said “¡Americano!” ran for five weeks. It could have continued but was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It allowed people, I think, to see a dreamer’s plight from a different perspective and to realize the immense commitment of dreamers who want to give back to this country,” he said.
Barnard and Jason Rose, the show’s lead producer, spent the next two years trying to bring the musical to New York.
They needed to raise $3 million to fund the production. The Arizona-based organization Chicanos Por La Causa became one of their biggest contributors.
Valdovinos said he was excited to continue sharing his story, which began in New York. He remembers being in sixth grade when he saw the Twin Towers collapse on the morning of September 11, 2001.
“It really changed my view of what security was and what it really meant to be an American,” he said, adding that it motivated him to want to become a US Marine.
Valdovinos said he hopes those who see the musical in New York will leave inspired “to not give up on being an American and to do whatever they can to support our community.”